For SMEs seeking to grow their business in size, profitability and market dominance, a former executive manager for global technology brands says these bad habits need to be shaken off.
Special Lights director Todd Lynton introduced Fitbit to Australia and worked at executive level for brands including Cisco and Olympus.
While he enjoys how nimble and responsive to change SMEs are, his transition from the big end of town to a business of just nine people and the various suppliers he now deals with have generated some valuable insights into how SMEs can unwittingly limit their own growth.
Don’t let everyday work impede your ability to plan
“Have annual planning sessions. Quite often you have smaller planning sessions more regularly – we have a two-month business review, we share information – a lot of small businesses don’t,” Todd suggests.
“Everyone sits around the table, this is our growth, this is our revenue by division, this is our profitability, these are our marketing plans, we’re looking at hiring someone else if we hit this target ... so we would share all of our confidential data every two months at a business review meeting, and then each year we would have a full-day planning session as a minimum on a division.
“[We ask questions such as] where have we been? What’s working out? What’s not working? What are competitors doing? What are the opportunities in the market? What do you think we can do next year? Will we grow? If so, by how much? What resources do we need? Can we tweak our offer? Is there a gap that we’re not getting? What other services or products are out there? What’s our pipeline look like? Who are our partners? Do we need more business development focus?”
Todd adds: “[You need] to actually be steering the ship more than letting it drift wherever it ends up.”
Stay nimble to beat larger competitors
A lack of big budgets, large workforces and brand power need not hold you back, suggests Todd.
In fact, being small can actually be an SME’s greatest weapon in the fight to beat larger competitors to market with new or revamped products and services.
“Despite the fact that corporates all hire change departments and change managers and all that, it’s not easy to quickly make radical or serious change and bed it in,” says Todd.
Stick to your word
“Definitely it comes back to the importance of brands, the importance of integrity that comes with a brand,” says Todd.
“If you commit to something or you promise something, don’t just tell bullshit and promise impossible things and sort it out later ... those type of habits can [and do] exist in small businesses. Get rid of that, not tolerating any of that.”